How many horses have you ridden over the years? In my opinion, the more horses you ride, the better. Each and every horse is unique and can teach you something new about yourself as a rider. When I first started riding, I got to ride several different horses because I did not yet have my own. I leased two horses over a period of five years, and had lessons on countless others. Finally, I bought my own horse, and I focused only on him. I have had him now for six years, and have only seriously ridden three other horses in that time. I have learned a lot from my own horse, and have gotten to know him very well which makes riding him much more enjoyable. This year, I have had the opportunity to work with another lovely Arabian gelding who has taught me sooo much! I have realized how much I was missing out on by only riding one horse.
Riding multiple horses has given me the opportunity to learn new things from each horse and apply them in every ride. Each horse's unique personality and learning style forces us as riders to think outside of the box and become very adaptable to our horse's needs. I now know not to pass up any opportunity to get on another horse whenever I get the chance. It's my personal goal to become the greatest horseman I can be, and be able to get on any horse and make the best of it. It just makes sense that the only way to do this is to ride as many horses as possible and take something out of every experience. I think the same concept applies to trainers. Each trainer has different philosophies and have had different experiences with horses. You certainly don't have to agree with every trainer you talk to (and I'm sure you wont) but I think it is a wonderful opportunity to talk to or get a lesson from as many trainers as you can until you find someone you are really happy with.
Another thing that I have learned to do is to have a video camera available as much as possible. I am trying to make it a habit to get videos of my rides as often as possible, especially when I get a lesson from someone. This is an awesome tool because it allows me to watch my rides over again and see from another perspective how I ride. This also makes it easier to remember everything I learned in that ride. These are just some tricks I have learned over the years. One of the most beautiful facts about the equestrian sport is that you truly never stop learning. It's a constant adventure and all the work really does pay off!
*Image courtesy Flickr creative commons.